That is the belief of the United Way.
“The United Way theory is that if you teach behaviors and attitudes young,” United Way’s Chelsey Rider said.
The United Way of Acadiana put that idea into effect Thursday morning in Abbeville.
A dozen volunteers gathered at the Vermilion Unit of the Boys and Girls Club of Acadiana, located in A.A. Comeaux Park, where kids learned about money management with the Budget Buddy program. Nearly 600 volunteers in the four parishes (Vermilion, Lafayette, Iberia, St. Martin) took part Thursday in the United Way’s Day of Action.
“It’s our largest volunteer effort,” Rider said of the event. “We get volunteers from the community and we have them help out in our Earnings, Education and Essentials, which is the three Es part of United Way.
“Here we are helping build children’s abilities with money with the Budget Buddy program. It teaches children at an early age to how to manage their money, including their allowance and the importance of saving this money.”
One of the volunteers, Ray Dugal, branch manager of the Gulf Coast Bank in Delcambre, discussed with the kids the workings of a bank. He also talked spending habits, including having the club members use jelly beans as currency and break down how they would spend their money.
“Something to ask yourself,” Dugal told the members, “is do I want to buy an item or do I need to buy an item?”
Vermilion Boys and Girls Club director Brian Ford said he sees the early learning as nothing short of positive.
“Money is definitely something that everyone is going to have to deal with,” Ford said. “There’s not necessarily money management classes for younger kids in school.
“Most of managing money is behavior. It’s about 90 percent behavior and 10 percent math. If we can train at this early age to have positive behaviors with money, to budget, save and give, then when they grow up to be adults, those habits will be there. It can help them be successful.”
Ford said it is nice to have a partner in trying to reach those goals.
“We’re very grateful that the united way is working with us,” Ford said. “They are one of our big donors and we’ve had a wonderful partnership with them for years. Without them, what we do every day would not be possible.
“Today is just icing on that cake.”